Graveyard Dates

Submitted into Contest #221 in response to: Write a story where ghosts and the living coexist.... view prompt


Romance Teens & Young Adult Coming of Age

Okay! Picture the scene! We’re seven college-aged, amateur ghost hunters trespassing on a huge graveyard late at night. Besides my infrared cameras, Lou's digital recorders, and Judy's various thermometers, we also had John and Charles who were psychic sensitives, and Mark's perpetually chattering, air-headed girlfriend, Beverly!

Sensing a strong ghostly presence in a secluded, tree-lined plot, John and Charles grew more excited and Beverly got more chatty when suddenly a voice snapped out from the shadows behind some large head stones.

"Quieten down people! You're making enough noise to wake the dead! You'll have the grounds keeper on us all!"

Well, we jumped, we screamed, and Mark had to grab Beverly to keep her from running into the darkness! Then a girl stepped out into the moonlight and waved, "Follow me. We need to get away from the gate."

Blame it on the adrenaline because we took off after her without a thought! We’d planned our trip for the full moon and could see well enough as we streamed through the low tree line, down a short slope, and around a small duck pond.

We stopped just past the last bench where a stand of trees threw a heavy shade on the ground. Our guide turned around. "I think we’re safe now. Hello, everybody! I’m Cinnamon!" and she stretched out her hand in greeting.

Despite John being President of our Ghost Hunting Club, he is shy around strangers and didn't mind that I took over the conversation. "Nice to meet you, Cinnamon. Thanks for the warning. I'm Brad Stewart," and I happily took her hand and shook it. Then by way of explanation, I held up my Flir i3 thermal-imaging camera and smiled. "We're ghost hunting! You wouldn't happen to know where any are hiding out, would you?"

Then I introduced everyone. “This is Lou and Judy Short. They do EVP's with their recorders while I try to get an infrared picture of any spirits or orbs floating around. John and his boyfriend, Charles, are psychics and empaths and sense spirit energy. Mark is our driver and listens to the tapes the twins make. And Beverly. She's loud." Mark threw me a sour look but he's the one with the noisy girlfriend!

I chattered on. "So what brings you to St. Winston's graveyard on such a fine full moon night? Are you ghost hunting too? Do you live around here?" I realized I was asking way too many questions of a stranger but it just felt natural to talk to her. To describe Cinnamon as cute would have been an understatement. Her dark hair was cut in a bob and her cheeks dimpled when she smiled. Under the moonlight, the furry pull-over sweater she wore was an indiscriminate gray with a darker scarf around her throat and a pleated, knee-length skirt over leggings that vanished into calf-high boots. No, I am not usually that quickly smitten by a pretty girl but this was my Junior year in college and I had a very busy work load so I hadn't gotten around to dating at all this year.

She tilted her head and looked up at me with that charming half-smile and I melted. "I’m from around here and enjoy the peace and quiet here at night. So, you hunt ghosts? I know a few places you might find one! Come on!" and it felt so right I didn't even feel surprised when she took my hand again and lead me down the path toward another section of the graveyard before stopping in front of a small mausoleum nestled between squat holly bushes. "Your friends with the recorders should enjoy this!"

"Back in the early 1800's,” Cinnamon narrated, “the head of this family had all three of his teenage daughters die of smallpox within a week. When he built this place for them, he added extra benches so the family could sit and still talk with them." The girl's eyes twinkled as she smiled at Lou, “Maybe they'll talk to you tonight."

With a grin, Lou strode to the entrance and beckoned to

Judy, "Come help me get the recorders ready!" Mark sat up a couple of phone cameras the twins used to film themselves during their part of the hunt. Meanwhile, Beverly sat on one of the benches and opened a bag of potato chips.

Soon the team was deep into their routine. While Lou ran the

recorders, John and Charles would ask questions and whenever their special senses felt a spirit, they would try to engage with it in hopes it would tell them more. Sadly EVP's, or Electronic Voice Phenomena, only showed up on the tapes when you played them back so this part always seemed a bit strange to me as my friends held one-sided conversations with the air.

My job was to take pictures in hopes a thermal image, or an orb, or really anything unusual would appear in them. After a while, John said ‘Good-bye’ to the two spirits he said had been attending our session. As we gathered up the equipment, Judy said, "The ghosts must really be hovering close tonight. My thermometer stays dropped 20 or more degrees all around us. I had to go to the middle of that parking lot back there to get a baseline reading with my phone's weather app."

Usually I get nervous if someone watches me work but it seemed so natural that Cinnamon was right there beside me, watching. I tucked my camera in its pouch and she surreptitiously slipped her hand into mine. I just hoped the smile I felt spreading over my face didn’t look goofy.

As we strolled slowly over toward the next plot of stones, Cinnamon confessed, "I've always been fascinated by the beauty of the statues here!"

"I know what you mean," I replied."Ever since Lou and Judy

convinced me to go ghost hunting with them, I've come to love

seeing the artwork people have on their graves."

Cinnamon smiled, "I think it's the angel sculptures I like the most. There are so many different kinds and most of them have special meanings. It's like how flowers are used to tell different

emotions but the angels all tell of death." I glanced at Cinnamon’s face and saw a fleeting sadness pass across her gaze. "There's Gabriel and his trumpet always threatening to wake everybody up and I've been told that when an angel is sitting on the grave it means the person died an untimely death. Other angels will hold an extinguished torch when the person passed too early."

Stepping a few markers further down she wistfully said, "I wish

there weren't so many of these," and she petted a stone sheep on the head. "So many children are marked by the lambs and the cherubs and there are so many of them, especially in the older grave plots." I could sense sadness intruding on the night's mood but I felt powerless to prevent it.

We walked in silence for a bit until we were standing in front of one angel who's wings swept up to touch at the tips high over the angel's head. The white marble of this one had developed a fine pattern of lichen that added texture to the moonlight and shadows. "Brad?" Cinnamon turned and looked seriously at me. "You told me about your thermal camera but do you have one takes normal pictures?"

"Certainly! I still have an old 35mm that uses real film. I even have to develop it myself. What's on your mind?"

She was quiet a moment and looked down at the ground. "I was just thinking how great it would be to come back in the daylight and take regular pictures of these beautiful angels." She looked up at me hopefully.

"That's a marvelous idea! This is the first time I've been here and I’m blown away by how beautiful it looks in the moonlight! I can only imagine what it’ll look like in sunlight!" She smiled again and we started walking .

"What are those big monuments over there?" I asked, pointing

toward some figures a hundred yards away. "One of them looks like a Greek temple! And is that a pyramid behind it?"

"Oh, that!" She laughed at my excitement, bringing that

quirky, half up-tilted smile back as her eyes twinkled in mirth.

"That's Rich City over there. It's where people with more money than sense prove that if you can't take it with you, you can at least spend a lot of it hoping people will be envious of what you had." She laughed as we strolled off toward them, the joy of the night rising between us again.

Even with the sharp contrasts thrown by the moonlight overhead, the artwork and architecture of these structures was amazing. There were several politicians interred along with some big business names. Among the older edifices were even a few representatives of a fading aristocracy from an older age. "This place looks more like a museum than a cemetery!" I stated.

Cinnamon glanced at me and chuckled! "I figured a ghost hunter would know the difference between a cemetery and a graveyard!" Her smile grew wide to offset any possible hurt feelings. "I know lots of people use the names interchangeably but cemeteries are just plots of land where you bury people. But graveyards," and she pointed across the way to the spires and bell tower of Saint Winston's Cathedral, "graveyards are attached to a church. Even at a hundred and fifty acres this is still part of the churchyard."

"Oh, Cinnamon," John called as we came walking back. "You seem to be very familiar with this place. Surely you have a favorite spot. Wanna share?” Cinnamon stared at him for a minute, then nodded towards another path.

"This is my favorite place here!" Cinnamon beamed as she brought us to the base of a monolithic pillar that rose at least ten feet into the air. Crowning the dark stone edifice was a Seraphim of white marble; it's many wings spread out in greeting to all before it.

"Oh, my gods," muttered Charles. "It feels like ALL the spirits are gathered here! It's so strong, I ..." and he trailed off, tears streaming down his cheeks. John pulled him close and held his partner in loving support as the sensory data they were both feeling danced across their emotions. They seemed to glow and the beauty of the moment prompted me to lift my camera and take a set of close-up shots before pulling the focus back to take in the surroundings.

I knew Lou would be at his recorders and hoped he and Judy could sense the bliss permeating this perfect moment. Then I was done with the camera and Cinnamon edged up to me and leaned her head against my chest! We stood there in silence for a while. This early in the morning not even a distant hum of traffic was heard so the only sound was a soft susurration of wind in the trees.

"I've gotten lost in thought for hours at a time here." whispered

Cinnamon as she slowly pulled apart. "Thank you for letting me share this special place with you!" She squeezed my hand briefly before letting go. "Come on, I've got one more thing to show you all before morning arrives!"

We slowly came out of the fugue this place had inspired and everyone followed Cinnamon to the primary path. While the wee hours were aging fast, there was still a while to go in this stillest part of the night. I was thrilled that I was spending it with Cinnamon. It was hard to believe we had met less than eight hours ago. It felt so right when again she slipped her hand in mine to hurry us along.

"What's happening to you, Brad?" I questioned myself. I was familiar with the feeling of infatuation that comes with meeting a new girl but this felt different. Not only did my new friend look so like every dream girl I'd imagined, she was so easy to talk to. She was witty and able to discuss whatever topic came up. I'd heard a lot of friends talk about "Love at first sight" but never took them seriously. Was something like that happening to me? Me, who never seriously dated anyone even in high school?

Eventually the path led back to the duck pond we had passed earlier. Cinnamon stopped us at the benches about halfway along the shore. "If we are lucky we will see the Green Lady walking through the edge of the trees over there! She only ever shows in the early morning so I hope I've timed our arrival well. And yes, I have seen her several times."

"Do you think we could get a response from her?" Lou looked

wistfully at his recorder then glanced at our guide.

"No harm in trying, although I don't think asking questions will help. She never stops her walk but there are local stories about people hearing her lamenting in some foreign language no one can understand."

"No problem," Lou replied. "I think I'll just put one over there and see if anything comes of it. I'm getting tired anyway!" As he and Judy wandered away to set it up, I pulled my thermal camera out and found a headstone to position it on. "I think I'll set it to automatic and take a shot every three seconds. That should make for a nice gif if anything shows!"

I saw Cinnamon from the corner of my eye smiling as she watched me work and I felt a warm rush of happiness in my chest! John and Charles settled down in their typical meditative posture as they prepared to see what, if any, psychic impressions came to them. Mark and Beverly had disappeared for a bit of "privacy" and would catch up before dawn.

I watched some mist drifting off the surface of the water. In a fit of unusual boldness, I put my arm around Cinnamon’s shoulder and gently snuggled her up against my side. We stood that way for a long while, silent, yet fully enjoying the companionship as we gazed across the pond together.

"There she is!" whispered Cinnamon as a faint, phosphorescent glow began drifting through the tree trunks! While I couldn't make out any details at this distance, it did look like someone walking by. I glanced at my camera and saw it still patiently recording and couldn't help but feel excited in anticipation of studying the pictures later! The phenomena lasted only a minute before the glowing green figure faded into the trees and was gone. Lou let out a very impressed whoop of excitement. "That was awesome! That’s the first time I’ve actually ever seen a ghost! Brad, I sure hope you got pictures!"

It was a very exciting note to end our hunt on. Daylight was fast approaching and the sky was lightening to the East, washing out the moonlight that had served us all night. It was but a matter of minutes to get back to our starting place at the stone wall where a fallen tree had crumbled it a bit. Suddenly I realized I didn't want to step over the wall. I turned back to Cinnamon with a questioning look and a loss for words.

"It's okay, Brad. I have to be getting back too. I'm so happy I got to spend this beautiful night with you," and she stood on tiptoe to place a soft kiss on my cheek before swiftly turning away and hurrying back the way we had come. All I could do was watch.

Charles smiled at me, "You seem to be happy with your new friend, Brad. Can I assume we will be seeing more of her?"

"I sure hope so," I smiled back. "We've almost got a date to come back in the daytime to photograph the angels. We'll just have to pick a time -" and I froze. A deep, cold pit opened in my stomach as I realized that I had not thought to ask for her phone number or address! I didn't even know her last name! "Uh, I'll be back!" I gasped as I turned and sprinted back the way the girl had taken! I was in a panic. Stupid, stupid me! I followed the path, calling her name even though I knew the grounds keeper's cottage was close.

I was almost back to the stone covered knoll where we first met when I saw her ahead of me, standing in front of one of the large black stones. "Cinnamon! Wait!" I shouted.

Then as I started up the gentle rise, the sun broke the horizon

between two stones and caught me full in the eyes. I staggered a moment, then blinked to get the pain out of my eyes. With my head down, I ran on toward where the girl had been standing but she was gone. "Cinnamon, Cinnamon! Where are you?" I nearly screamed in frustration. I looked around and then stepped through the row of stones to see down though them. Still no Cinnamon!

I started to head toward the next row when I heard my name whispered, "Brad?" and I turned and I saw her again and I knew I'd be spending a lot of nights in this graveyard from now on.

There was the dark, pixie-cut hair and the up-tilted smile, and her twinkling eyes staring out at me from the ceramic-printed

photograph on the headstone under the engraved words:

Cinnamon Radcliff

"Beloved Daughter.

Gone too soon but never gone from our hearts"

and the dates,

February 14, 1955 - October 31, 1973

October 24, 2023 00:40

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Hannah Andrews
22:27 Nov 02, 2023

This was a fun read. I really liked the twist of this. I didn't catch on, like another of the readers said, that she was a ghost, until the end, though there were some good hints... which I did catch on my second read through. Very clever, and I like wondering if she will show up in the photos. Well done. My only suggestion, style wise is to cut down on the exclamation marks. I know that's more of a grammar thing, and I'm certainly no expert (on grammar or writing) but they're a little distracting. Just a thought. Again, loved the story. Gre...


Rabbitt Sharp
16:26 Nov 05, 2023

Thank you so very much for your kind and useful words. And especially for pointing out a fatal flaw in my self-editing! Yes, I erred. I'm so used to using exclamation marks in texting with people. I tend to speak excitedly, so I use them a lot conversationally. Thanks to you, I shall remember and do better. :-) As mentioned in other comments, I had not planned any follow-up stories. But now you wonderful people liking my story have my Muse tap dancing on my skull with ideas for more. I shall make it so.


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Kristi Sturgeon
18:38 Oct 28, 2023

Nice job! Your descriptions of your scene and characters are well done. It's interesting that in the world you've created, your ghost feels human. When she is touched, she is solid and doesn't feel cold or non-existent. Will she show up on the camera? Did she not get caught on a Flir? I hope you write a part II and answer some of these questions. Very enjoyable story.


Rabbitt Sharp
19:07 Oct 28, 2023

Thank you so very much for your kind words. I hadn't originally thought of a follow-up but I am being sorely tempted to do so. As for the differences in physical interaction in the story as opposed to the usual reports is that the prompt said a world where ghosts and humans both exist. So I figured they should be able to interact a bit better! :-) I'll keep your ideas in mind! Blessed Be!


Rabbitt Sharp
17:13 Nov 05, 2023

Oh, I figured out how to get around the seeming lack of coldness to the touch between Brad and Cinnamon. She was wearing light gloves along with the rest of the thicker outfit so that the chill of night would have been good enough excuse for chilly fingers. And Brad probably isn't the most observant fellow in the world either either. *grin*


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Kathryn Kahn
15:07 Oct 28, 2023

You've done a great job creating this spooky atmosphere. And it's so interesting how you've created this fact (Cinnamon is a ghost) that the readers are aware of but the narrator doesn't learn until the end.


Rabbitt Sharp
18:49 Oct 28, 2023

Thank you so very much! I am so happy you noticed the subtle foreshadowing I tried sprinkling in. Have a joyous day. R


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Shirley Medhurst
14:31 Oct 28, 2023

Enjoyed reading your story, Rabbitt. I can’t help wondering if Brad will catch any footage of Cinnamon &/or the Green Lady on his camera??? Maybe that can be a Part II…. I like all the different detailed characters you describe to us - although if I were to make a tiny suggestion, it would be to just introduce them the one time: ie when all the characters meet Cinnamon. Catch up again soon…


Rabbitt Sharp
18:42 Oct 28, 2023

Thank you so very much for your kind words! I hadn't really thought of a sequel to the story since it brushes along the Romance genre and they have their strict formulas to follow or else. BUT Soon as I read your comment my brain took off with a story line where, years later, Brad is still happy visiting Cinnamon and the other non-corporal denizens of the Graveyard but that has drawn the attention of a new Priest at Saint Winston's Cathedral who declares demonic infestation and is threatening them with Exorcism. Yeah, not what anyone would...


Shirley Medhurst
00:15 Oct 29, 2023



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